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Event organisers in Barcelona have successfully hit back against a reimposed suspension of cultural activity, as open-air events go ahead despite stricter measures
By IQ on 21 Jul 2020
Festival organisers, concert promoters and venue operators in Barcelona have managed to overturn new regulations that would have forced all events and venues to close down again amid an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Due to a recent spike in cases, Catalonian health minister Alba Vergés urged residents on Friday (18 July) to stay at home for the next 15 days and only go out to buy food, go to work or for health reasons. The government also announced that cinemas, theatres and nightclubs would once again be forced to close, with gatherings of over ten people banned.
The reintroduction of more stringent measures in the metropolitan area of Barcelona and in the province of Lleida follows previous stay-at-home orders that affected around 400,000 Catalans earlier this month.
In response to the announcement, representatives from Barcelona festivals including Festival Cruïlla, Festival Pedralbes and Grec Festival, as well as the the association of Catalan venues (Asociación de Salas de Conciertos de Cataluña – Assac), took to social media using the hashtag #CulturaEsSegura (Culture is safe) to protest the re-closing of venues and festivals throughout the region.
“95% of Asacc venues have been closed since March, with no programming scheduled due to the uncertainty of reopening dates. The few that have opened have done so with minimal capacities for musical performances,” reads a post on the Asacc Twitter page.
“We cannot place the responsibility of new outbreaks on venues and not keep track of street gatherings, raves, private parties and beach bars. Enough stigmatising of clubs, music and culture!
“Venues are not the origin of new outbreaks.”
Following the complaints, Catalan civil protection society Procicat (El Pla territorial de protecció civil de Catalunya) posted new guidelines, approving the carrying out of cultural events in “exceptional circumstances”.
“Venues are not the origin of new outbreaks”
According to the guidance, events in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia are still permitted to go ahead provided they are in remote areas; take place outdoors; have previously been assessed and approved by Procicat; maintain social distancing; implement track and tracing systems; and take extra hygiene precautions.
It is also noted that organisers must be willing “to make maximum capacity requirements more flexible, if the health authorities require more restricted conditions.”
The exceptions allow for the Cruïlla XXS shows, over 200 open-air events organised by the Cruïlla Festival team, to go ahead this month, along with performances by Van Morrison, Diana Navarro and Paco Ibanez, as part of Fes Pedralbes. Barcelona’s Grec Festival is also taking place, with a programme of dance, theatre and music.
The Sala Barcelona concert series, which is taking place in the grounds of the Montjuïc Castle, has also been given the green light to host performances over the coming weeks. Upcoming concerts at the venue include DJs Ikram Bouloum and Santa Marts, pop band Los Retrovisores, folk group River Omelet and film score composer Niño de Elche.
However, the new restrictions saw the team at Barcelona festival Primavera Sound cancel the next two weeks of its Nits del Fórum series due to “the uncertainty provoked by contradictory recommendations and restrictions”.
“Despite complying with all the required safety requirements, despite being a concert series lauded by the authorities and despite the warm welcome received from fans over the past few weeks, Nits del Fórum has decided to take a break,” reads a Primavera Sound statement.
Organisers state they have voluntarily suspended activity until 31 July, in anticipation of “a clearer and more definite framework of limitations and recommendations for all”.
All affected concerts will be reprogrammed for new dates.
Elsewhere in Spain, outdoor events with up to 800 people are permitted, with concert series promoted by Live Nation and the Music Republic, as well as shows at the Wizink Center and Ifema exhibition centre taking place over the coming weeks.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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